Episode number: 11th episode aired, 16th episode produced
Written by: some dude named Gene Roddenberry
Directed by: Marc Daniels, who directed many Treks as well as the first 38 episodes of I Love Lucy
Captain’s Log: A subspace message from fleet captain Pike, former captain of the Enterprise, asks the ship to come to Starbase 11, but when Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to the planet, nobody was expecting them. Commodore Jose Mendez (not to be confused with The Man Trap‘s pepper loving Commodore Jose Dominguez) says that there’s no way that Pike could have sent that message – a space accident has crippled and disfigured Pike, leaving him locked in a wheelchair and unable to communicate except for flashing lights on his Hoveround (one beep for yes, two for no). Most shockingly of all, the accident damaged Pike so badly that he changed from former Jesus Christ Jeffrey Hunter into some totally different dude.
Spock had served under Pike for years; after everybody gawks at the freak Spock asks for a moment alone with his old commander. He whispers into Pike’s ears ‘You know why I’m here’ and Pike starts beeping NO NO NO NO and you start to wonder if Spock is going to engage in some ancient Vulcan ass-rape on the now-incapacitated man.
But Spock’s plan is different. He heads down to the communications room while Kirk and Mendez try to figure out who sent the message. Mendez says a check of the local tapes proves nobody sent anything, and since Spock served under Pike and he was the only one who heard it, isn’t this shit real suspicious? But Kirk is positive that it couldn’t be Spock, even though he has the computer skills needed to fake such a message.
Which, it turns out, is just what he’s doing in communications. He nerve pinches the guys down there and fiddles with the computer, inserting little plastic things Playmobile looking things into the computer, faking Starfleet sending new top secret orders that only the computer can read. When Uhura calls down to double check what the heck is up, Spock throws in another tape (this guy must have been great at phoney phone calls back in the Academy) and what seems to be Captain Kirk’s voice tells her that Mr. Spock can answer all questions. Spock tells Hansen, the duty officer, not to tell anybody about these new orders and that they’re going to warp out in an hour.
Kirk is staring at poor Pike on a viewscreen as McCoy comes in. McCoy’s all pissed off about medicine because they can fix every part of the body but the brain, and that sad gimp’s brain is working completely but trapped in a destroyed body. One wonders why McCoy got into medicine if he hates it so. Kirk talks to McCoy about his growing suspicions that Spock pulled a fast one on them, but McCoy insists that a Vulcan can’t lie. Kirk reminds him that Spock is half human (the half in his pants, if you know what I mean. Ohhhh!), and that deception is a possibility. At that moment Bones gets called back up to the ship for a nebulous medical emergency.
After Bones leaves, Kirk goes back to hang out with Mendez (this one’s just barreling along, huh?) and, seemingly apropos of nothing, the Commodore whips out a highly classified report on Talos IV. Talos IV is the only forbidden planet in the galaxy (excluding all the hundreds of planets in the Romulan and Klingon Empires, one supposes), and to going there is the only crime that will get you the death penalty anymore. Nobody knows why, and the harshness of that sentence is never really explained, so don’t wait for it.
Anyway, Mendez gives Kirk permission to read the file; it turns out that the Enterprise is the only ship to ever have visited Talos IV – when it was commanded by Pike, with Spock as a science officer. Again, there’s no reason to even bring this up, except that Talos IV is sort of nearby and Gene needed to set up all of the flashback footage. I mean, Spock served under Pike for like seven years, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned in ten episodes of Star Trek it’s that the galaxy is chock full of wacky ass planets where wacky ass things happen.
Miss Piper is supposed to be keeping an eye on Pike on the monitor, but she turns around to check out the bulge in Kirk’s polyester pants for just a moment and when she turns back Pike is gone. Up in orbit, Spock tells the crew that Kirk has been ordered to stay at Starbase 11 for medical rest leave and that the ship will be undertaking a mission so secret that the course headings are known only to the computer. The Enterprise takes off on cruise control, and McCoy demands to know who diagnosed Kirk as needing leave. Spock takes him to a cabin where Pike, still blinking NO NO NO NO sits, and plays a phoney phone call from Kirk telling everybody just to lay off the poor dude for like a minute and listen to Spock.
On the bridge Hansen says that a Federation shuttlecraft is following them, but at the Enterprise’s speed they’ll never catch up. On the shuttlecraft is Kirk and Mendez, trying to raise the Enterprise and getting all mad that nobody is listening. To make matters worse, they’re almost out of oxygen and then Kirk says he almost hopes he dies because if he gets on the Enterprise, Spock is done for. Errr….
Spock figures out that these two dipshits have already taken the shuttle beyond the point where it has enough fuel to get back to Starbase 11, so he begins executing the next part of his mutiny. He tells the computer to execute a certain command and tells the transporter team to beam Kirk aboard. He has a security detail come to the bridge, and he tells Dr. McCoy to order his arrest. As Spock is led off to his quarters, it turns out that the Enterprise is on its way to Talos IV (holy shit, what a coincidence) and that any attempt to divert it will short circuit the life support.
There’s a whole bunch more blah blah blah and Spock demands a court martial. Because there are three command grade officers on board – Kirk, Mendez and Pike, who everybody left on the active duty roster out of PITY (seriously) – he gets his wish. Then there’s a bunch more blah blah blah and Mr. Spock pulls out his coup de grace: the unaired pilot of Star Trek.
Yes, in his court martial everybody sits down to watch The Cage. Mendez is baffled by the thing, since it includes music and camera angles and all sorts of stuff. And it’s the unremastered version, no less. Spock explains that while no Starfleet ship records stuff like this, Desilu does. And to just sit tight, you’ll see it all!
On the screen Captain Pike and his Enterprise crew (including a younger Spock with a totally adorable short haircut and a tendency to SHOUT EVERY SINGLE WORD) are coming away from a battle on Rigel 7. Pike is pretty despondent, and when the ship gets an 18 year old distress signal he’s all like fuck that noise, I just cannot be bothered to care. He goes to his quarters to pout on his bed, and the ship’s doctor shows up to get him drunk. Pike says he wants to retire but the doctor scoffs at the idea, saying that for Pike being retired would be lke becoming a scarred up cripple confined to a wheelchair who can only communicate by blinking lights. As they have some drinks Spock calls down to the room (probably just by shouting down a tube) that they got a follow-up call from the folks who set up the SOS signal. Now Pike feels bad and has to investigate.
They go to Talos IV and find the signs of wreckage. Pike and a landing party – including Spock – beam down, leaving serious minded brunette Number One in charge of the ship. Planetside they discover the cast of Lost if they had gone off in a space shuttle 20 years ago. They left Earth before warp drive apparently (continuity problems… killing… me… PAIN… PAIN…) and they didn’t imagine they’d get rescued. Everybody is old except for this one totally bodacious babe, who was in fact a literal babe when the ship landed. She gets an eye for Pike, saying he’s a delicious specimen.
This broad, Vina, convinces Pike to take a walk with her. Pike, calculating that she’s never been schtupped, follows along, but he’s the one who gets fucked. Vina disappears and aliens with huge ass-shaped heads come out and shoot him. As that happens, all the crash survivors disappear as well, and the landing party sees that the captain is being kidnapped by the Assheadiacs. They try to shoot their phasers at the elevator door behind which the Assheadiacs escaped, but they can’t do any damage.
The TV show comes to an end. Spock reveals that the images are coming from the Assheadicans, and Mendez is like ‘You’re getting toasted for this.’ With the transmission ended, the court martial goes on break, and Spock just about begs Kirk to make Mendez allow him to show the entire pilot.
And then it’s TO BE CONTINUED…
Review: This episode really suffers from watching twice. The first time through you’re intrigued by what Spock’s plan could be, and why he has to commit mutiny to pull it off. Is he mind controlled? Has he snapped? Is it a secret too huge to share with humanity? When you watch The Menagerie Part II you realize all of this is stupid nonsense.
What makes The Menagerie worthwhile at all is the opportunity to see the original pilot, The Cage. NBC turned the show down but took the almost unprecedented step of allowing Roddenberry to retool the show; the only elements that really remained were the Enterprise and Spock, and even Spock was fairly different. The original pilot was shot almost two years before the show eventually aired, but the look and feel of that pilot is remarkably different, feeling much more like a Forbidden Planet rip off, and with more of a 50s style. But now that The Cage is available on its own, sitting through this episode – which is mostly made up of people yakking and barely goes up through the first act of The Cage – is a slog.
Kirkin’ Out: Kirk is hanging out in Mendez’s office when Miss Piper shows up with a report. She says that she recognized Kirk immediately because their mutual friend Lt. Johansson, ‘described’ him to her. Her demeanor indicates that Lt. Johansson certainly described some part of Kirk to her, and she can’t wait to see it for herself.
Spockmarks: When young Spock first visits Talos IV, he finds plants that create a vibrating humming noise. His response? A big smile!
Redshirt: Kirk manages to keep everybody alive. At least for now… Will Spock face the death penalty? (Spoiler: No).
Dilithium Bullshit: The shuttlecraft having limited fuel and oxygen makes a whole lot of sense.
Support Staff of the Week: You feel bad for Gimp Pike, but the look on his face is so fucking hilarious.
Continerdity: Oh man. We learn that there was a captain of the Enterprise before Kirk, and we learn that Spock has served on the ship longer than anyone else – at least 13 years. Kirk only met Pike when he was promoted to fleet captain and Kirk took over his command (this episode will likely be the source of much nerd anger when JJ Abrams’ Star Trek has Kirk on the Enterprise with Pike, and first meeting him in a bar before Kirk was even in Starfleet. Somebody is known as Number One, a naming convention that will return in The Next Generation. We learn that warp capability is fairly new (although this is overruled by later continuity), and that it’s referred to as ‘breaking the time barrier.’ Pike orders the Enterprise to go at Time Warp Factor 7. And don’t get me started on young Spock exhibiting all kinds of emotions and speaking in less than measured tones.
Set Phasers to Quote: “You, an Orion trader, dealing in green animal women slaves?” – Dr. Boyce
One Positive Baby Clint Howard Out of Five
Star Trekkin’ – Introduction
Star Trekkin’ Day 1 – Where No Man Has Gone Before
Star Trekkin’ Day 2 – The Man Trap
Star Trekkin’ Day 3 – Charlie X
Star Trekkin’ Day 4 – The Naked Time
Star Trekkin’ Day 5 – The Enemy Within
Star Trekkin’ Day 6 – Mudd’s Women
Star Trekkin’ Day 7 – What Are Little Girls Made Of?
Star Trekkin’ Day 8 – Miri
Star Trekkin’ Day 9 – Dagger of the Mind
Star Trekkin’ Day 10 – The Corbomite Maneuver